Drilling Down

comments 9

We have to drill down.
Straight through it.
Through the door
we nailed shut
all those years ago.
Through the weathered planks
and carefully placed stones.
Through every concession
we once offered to the sky
that the sky could never take,
and still be a place for shining.
Through all those fragmentary hopes
that never went anywhere.
Through that half-light
we never really wanted.

We have to drill down.
Down through our
belief that things
might get better.
Down through the wish
that we could perhaps hold on
and make a lasting peace
so long as we had
a quiet, wooded place
in which our secrets might graze.
Down through whatever
interpretations may arise
at the last minute
like a tempting glow in the distance.
Straight through those,
with jets of steam and mud and stone
streaming all around.
Down through this veneer of adequacy.
Down through this hesitant way of seeing.
Down through all that we have gained,
through everything that could be lost.
We have to spring up the ladder
and climb into the rig
like a pouncing cat,
our lives already gone,
those nagging tugs
and sweet sensations
kissed on the cheek
and put on a train
back to the stars.
We have to set
the bit and raise
the hydraulic pressure,
all the while
knowing exactly what it means–
this moment
we cut through everything,
through every strata
and layer.

We have to drill down.


  1. The deeper we dig, the darker it gets. Not in a bad way though, in a potent, unseen otherness way. Sit with it, let it in, allow yourself the eyes to see, the ears to hear it. Sometimes it is those ‘rock bottom’ moments that give power to the drill. Down down down, right to the core.

    I love the rawness here. I know this place. Come join me, laughing and crying among the torn up floorboards. 🙂


    • Thank you, Andrea. This was actually an early attempt at fierce poetry, if you know what I mean. Something tells me you do. While I have certainly had my spate of challenges the past few lunar revolutions, this was inspired by a moment without hesitancy– by the sensation of life without so many velvety cordons, posted signage decreeing the right turns to make on one of the infinite trails through eternity, or orange cones. A lot less orange cones. I agree with the need to share the rig with some invisible dark monsters as we scuttle through the floorboards and through the shale and bedrock and through the underground river to Hades. They seem to have a knack for this sort of thing. I’m letting them run the iPod. We’re becoming fast friends.



  2. Haha! Your whole comment has the potential to become a post in itself! I am envisioning you starring in “The Perfect Storm” with a few dark mythological gods and creatures for your crew, rocking out to the perfect music madness while you tame the wild frothing waves. Funnily enough, during these times, I play Rage Against the Machine and employ my new arsenal of karate kicks. I am learning how to feel strong, not through the support and compliments that come when I am good at something, but the fierceness that grows inside when I am uncomfortable, when I am not good at something, when the ‘invisible dark monsters’ are in observance around me, but I keep going anyways.
    As you are sir. There is a beautiful refinement whispering within this post. You can’t drill down without causing some destruction to the structure. I think that’s the kicker. Avoiding the allowance of some destruction hinders growth.
    Turn the volume up, my friend!


    • Perfect! I can hardly think of a more suitable companion to a budding arsenal of karate kicks than Rage Against the Machine. I had the adrenalin-pulsing pleasure of seeing them in concert once, a number of years ago, at an abandoned steel mill in Birmingham, AL. It was great. That is good accompaniment for fierce inward drilling as well.

      I like what you wrote about feeling the fierceness that grows when you are uncomfortable, trying something new. You almost have to shut the world out at times to delve into something new, to give yourself the freedom and space to sit with it, sweat with it, go a few rounds with it… To try ten times and see each half-baked result as the deformed tailings of drilling down, as the way progress looks en route to the core…



  3. An excellent work Michael; excellent indeed if I may say so from my lowly position of un-privilege as regards poetry generally. You appear to be saying that we must dare to approach truth directly – if you will permit my use of the awkward term ‘truth’. And yet few would dare be so bold; it always seeming somewhat more reassuring to rest awhile upon the breeze in our rickety little rafts of certainty, to suspend any revelation whilst tightly clasping our leaking balloons of imagined spiritual progress. And of course, anything that remotely suggests dentistry. . .


    • Ha! Yes, the true spiritual path should nullify all need for dentistry, should it not!? 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words. I am often chasing my feelings through the woods when writing, like a bloodhound, hunting for the word or phrase that keeps the scent fresh before me, though often I’m not quite certain of exactly what I’m hunting. I feel you have described the feeling well, Hariod. This one is about the necessity of getting to the essence, the wordless essence even, of what it is to be. It’s about going deeper than making hastily drawn links between our thoughts and feelings and the first thing we see in the world around us that makes sense as a probable cause. That yields the shallow and ephemeral certainty you describe. It’s about approaching this mystery within ourselves, directly, as you say.

      I like the term truth. As good as any. The essence of who we are, in it’s raw and unrefined form, before it is sculpted by our thoughts and desires into some kind of shape we can leverage…



  4. The doing that I’m doing that keeps me from reading has been a doing with more clarity and less identity than before the latest session of digging down. There do seem to be cycles of strip mining which are followed by actions seasoned with a shaker of joy sprinkles. One ought to take care with what they ask for, it seems to me, for once I hopped on this certain train, asked for a ticket at all cost, there can be no getting off anymore; perhaps headed for the stars! (?) Your hunting for words in the woods yields remarkably resonate phrasing – which is so enjoyable to experience when I come up the shaft elevator for a breather, reading from the glow of my miner’s cap.


    • I do hope you have drilled into the joy at the center of the Tootsie Pop, my friend.

      When I read what you write, I am struck by the fact that there are times when the real work of giving a new reality life occurs in silence. The thinking chatter is gone. The telling people about it is over. It’s us and our big ideas, in silence. In one particular safety-goggled journey through the rubble, this was a nearly overwhelming discovery for me. It was harrowing to realize that if I really meant it I’d have to mean it when no one else was around, after everyone had gone home, in the steadfast resilience of my own being.

      Be careful what you ask for, indeed. Help arrives with incredible depth and swiftness. We are provided with precisely the most direct and powerful pathways needed to realize the essence of our desires, but we have to walk those pathways and they are not always what we had in mind. I have on more than one occasion not fully comprehended what must be built behind the scenes to yield the moment that was envisioned.

      Wishing you peace and ease along your path–


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